Difference-Makers in Life

“I just want to go home,” she said. “I just want to enjoy the days I have left at home.”

This was her wish in the hospital today. No more medical tests. No more attempts to push the limits of life and find another scientific miracle to extend it. No more pretending that there could be any other kind of ending to this story.

It was time to get back to basics. To simplify. To make the most of each day. To spend her remaining time in as many quality moments as possible with family and friends. In peace.

Aren’t these truly the difference-makers in life? The basics. Family and friends. Peace.

So often we miss the mark—especially at this time of year when many of us are pursuing the best deals on stuff. In the flurry to fill Santa’s bag with the latest gizmos because we think gifts equal happiness, we lose sight of true basics and what matters most. As if “stuff” opened by the Christmas tree can make up for the quality time we have missed all year long. Or for a whole lifetime.

I’m guilty. I’ve accumulated more stuff than I need. I’ve traded quality time for busy time. And I’m working to change that.

It starts with this year’s Christmas list. I’m asking that any present for me be a donation made to the Ice Age Trail Alliance in Wisconsin which is building a 1,200 mile footpath tracing our glacial heritage—the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. No stuff to clutter our home. Just the basics of kettle lakes, kames, drumlins, and glacial erratics protected into perpetuity all across Wisconsin. Native prairies, healthy woodlands, and scenic vistas. Urban trails as well as down-to-earth preservation of wild places and cultural sites. Quality moments for a lifetime and for any hiker young or old. For recreation and education. For a healthier planet.

This is a cause where service by many hundreds of people is focused beyond self and on leaving a legacy instead. As if that isn’t fantastic enough, there is a matching grant to double donations given before the end of this year (up to $60,000 for all of us asking Santa for the Ice Age Trail).

If there is one thing I’ve learned this year as I have been caring for family members with health issues and end-of-life decisions, it is that nothing is more important than good health and quality time with those we love. Isn’t this the stuff of which true peace on earth is made?